Backstage in LA – My 1st premier ‘Hell Boy 2 – Rise of the Golden Army’
The 1st premiere I ever attended in Los Angeles was the 2008 opening of Hell Boy 2 – Rise of the Golden Army and the following after party which was decorated as the underground troll market from the movie. I had been invited by my friend Matthew, the then head of development for IndieVest (who was one of the sponsor of the festival) since I was a travel columnist for Clarity News Group to cover the event. At that time I was staying in San Diego, and Matthew has simply said that if I managed to get to LA in time he would get me into the premier. As free events go this was not something I was going to miss. I changed into something fashionable that would last the 3 hour drive from San Diego to Los Angeles without wrinkling and hit the road.
When I got to West Wood by UCLA where the premier was being held, it took 45 minutes to navigate the non-existent parking options. Finally I found parking with only 20 minutes to go before the premier was schedule to begin. You better believe I hustled myself over to the press lounge of the festival to find Matt. Matt, true to his usual self, had a model one either arm and was wearing a off white v-neck t-shirt under a black blazer. He was lounging with the said models on the only couch in the place, telling the ladies about his cut throat job where he commanded legions of worker bees.
Having made my presence know to Matt, who appeared quite busy untangling himself from the models, I went to the bar in the press lounge to order a dirty martini – my signature drink (Note to anyone dealing with the press, if you feed and provide free drinks to the media, you almost grantee yourself good coverage).
As Matt came over with a forlorn look on his face, apparently over having to leave his lady friends. He handed me 1 pass into the screening of the premier itself, which was hilarious as he said I could have 2 and I had invited an indie film maker friend of mine. As I questioned him, he shrugged and smiled then headed back to the ladies.
Being left in quit the pickle with only 10 minutes to go before the screening and still waiting for my friend to arrive, I wondered over to the check in table to exchange the pass for a screening ticket. While at the table I started chatting with a very colorfully dress lady who I complimented on some of the costume jewelry she was wearing. It turned out she was the head of PR for the screening and felt sorry for me, and in turn for me being chatting and politely she gave me an extra ticket. She said there was nothing to be done about the after party since they were way over limit and had no extra tickets to give out. What she did tell me was that there was 2 different area for the after party, one for the general public which one had to have tickets to enter and the other for the VIP’s whose entrance was based on a list…
With that knowledge in mind, I waited for my friend to arrive which he did with 5 minutes to spare.
After the screening, which I left early with my friend, we headed over to the VIP entrance to get in (Yes, I shamelessly used Matt’s name) but to no avail. We waited outside the fence for about 20 minutes until I saw Matt wander by on the other side, politely calling out his name in a voice that sounded like someone had just been murdered before me. Getting his attention, I managed to guilt him into coming out to walk me and my friend in, which he did do to his credit.
In the Troll Market
Finally inside the VIP area I unconsciously start to teach my friend on how to mingle, something that comes to me fairly naturally. The rules for engaging with VIP’s are the same as if you ever in any crowd where semi-formal behavior is demanded.
Circle – One thing I always do is to wander through the venue, to establish a visual layout of the area, indentifying the spots where one can speak in a intimate way yet be heard. The other reason I do this is to scope out people I think look interesting or powerful, people I would like to chat with. I try to establish a brief eye contact with them so that when I do approach them, they either think I am someone they know by vaguely familiar look of my face or they think they should know me because of our eye contact.
Never interrupt – This is something that is hard most people, including myself to do. When we see someone we want to interact with, our natural instincts are to dive head first into communicating with them even if they are chatting with someone else. Let me tell you this – even if the person you want to talk to knows you, interrupting them will leave a negative impression of you with them. And if it the 1st time they have ever met you, that impression will never go away. Just keep circling and wait for the perfect moment, for there is one out there you just have to be present for it.
Positive message – Remember this simple rule, people love to be complimented on what they are wearing. If you keep your eyes open to what people are wearing around you, you can usually find the one piece they are especially proud of to compliment them on it. Be it their hair, clothing, shoes or accessories, they will always remember you as the individual whose eye caught that special detail they are proud of. In the end this little trick has opened many doors for me.
Be open – I usually end up telling people my life is a series of stories, and I am not kidding. Part of this is because I make myself open to just being present in whatever situation arises. Let me you what, this has lead to several different crazy adventures which I would never experienced if I was not open to what the universe presents.
The rest of the night went by like something out of a Hollywood fairytale, making the drive and struggle to get in very much worth it.
I had the pleasure of sitting down next a lovely young lady who looked like a grown up version of Wendy from Peter Pan, and who I told as much. She in turn was very pleased that I liked her look, which she had selected that day from a thrift store in valley. She took me to meet her uncle, a very tall skinny man vaguely looking like John Waters draped in a pin stripe suit with bright blue sequins lapels who turned out to be Doug Jones who plays Abe Sapien. Doug, pleasantly remembered me from my days at Comic Con and we had a pleasant 40 minute conversation about his experience of playing the faun in ‘Pan’s Labyrinth.’
After reminiscing with Doug, I literally bumped into Ron Perlman, who also knew my face from Comic Con. Admitting to him that I had never smoked a cigar before lead to me huffing and puffing on a cigar from Ron’s personal ever handy cigar supply. I won’t get into how strange it sounds to hear myself telling people that I once had Ron’s cigar in my mouth. Enough said on that. Ron is one of the nicest men, not mention actors I have ever met, always a kind word to say to everyone. Very much the gentlemen and the scholar.
One of the reasons my friend had agreed to come to the premier was to meet the visionary himself, Guillermo del Toro. As we wandered over the table inhabited by Mister del Toro, I spot a young looking elderly women wearing a beautiful golden bee pendant with emerald eyes. She was seated at the table where Guillermo was seated and was surrounded by a group of 4 middle aged women and 1 middle aged man, all of whom looked vaguely European in the tanned Roman way (think Spanish, Italian, etc).
I took a chance telling her I greatly enjoyed her Victorian styled brooch, the Golden Bee. It turned out she spoke only Spanish and was Guillermo’s wife, Lorenza Newton’s mother and everyone else was Lorenza’s family. As I speak barely conversational Spanish, but much more passable Italian, I processed to babble at Guillermo’s mother-in-law, wife and her family in a bad mixture of Italian and Spanish.
Wonder upon wonder, Guillermo and his wife’s family understood me and for the next 2.5 hours we all processed to chat about the film, his experience in the film industry and what it was like growing up in Mexico.
To this day, every time Guillermo sees me be it at Comic Con, about town in Los Angeles or other venues, he certainly recalls who I am fairly clearly.
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